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adventures in dining alone, or: why i should never be allowed to talk to strangers


feeling kinda how a girl feels

i've had an insane amount of live music in my life recently, some thru work and some on a social level. and there's more to come... makes me happy. the Boston Globe Jazz Festival is running this week, and there are live shows at Copley Square every evening this week at 5:30. i squashed myself into a train last night, sweating and squirming, to get down there to see Soulive. i'd picked up their latest CD a few weeks ago amidst the general splurginess of CD shopping. so it was very cool to see them perform. and of course, i bought the rest of their albums.

well, actually, not cool at all. damn freakin' hot, despite the stiff breeze. i decided after the show that it was too damn hot to cook, and opted to take myself out to dinner at the Brewery. now, mind you, i have no problem taking myself out, be it dinner or a movie or a concert. i will quite happily fly solo. other people seem to have this stigma, that it's bad to enjoy your own company. feh, says i. no stigma. but. there are some... issues.

to wit: i'm sitting there sipping my Hefe Weisen, quite happily reading away while i wait for dinner to arrive. current reading is a biography of Pontius Pilate. yes, i have rather eclectic tastes in reading materials. the concept is fascinating to me, because really, all i ever knew about Pilate was 'was crucified under, suffered death and was buried', &c. and the paucity of historical fact makes for a fascinating exploration of how different groups have felt the need to reinvent him, scribbling their own selves large on the blank slate.

the title piques the interest of the businessman sitting to my left. he strikes up a conversation. and i have this horrible feeling that things are going to go downhill. which they do, in a disgustingly predictable fashion.

turns out he's a Seventh Day Adventist, now Baptist, Southern boy from New Orleans by way of Mississippi. i should just never discuss religion with someone like that. i mean, i study/practice a mix of Episcopal, Gnostic, Buddhist, and Wiccan. oil and freakin' water, i'm telling you. he feels the need to exposit why we all actually go to church on the wrong day of the week, breaking commandment #4, and how we're all going straight to Hell because of that, him included, because now he's a good little Baptist, having switched over when he got married.

and then we get into politics. don't even ask what the segue was. i couldn't tell you. and it's not getting any better. meanwhile, he's swigging down beer and explaining that he never really gets all that much time with his wife, as he constantly travels for business, and she's pissed when he comes home anyway. i question the beer, because it seems that as Seventh Day, he shouldn't go anywhere near the stuff, altho i may have that wrong.

i get the distinct vibe that he's looking for company on that express train to Hell. so i say something along the lines of 'um, gee, that's an awfully shiny wedding ring you're wearing. so how old are your kids?'

but he doesn't get it. willful ignorance is a powerful tool, or weapon, if it's in the wrong hands. and while my internal dialog ran along the lines of 'ew, eewwww, ick, bleargh, yuck! no! bad! icky! nasty! get out of my face!', what came out was, 'uh huh. so what do you think about the recent policy with China?' i have *got* to learn the fine art of shutting down people. either that, or get rid of the LED on my forehead that shouts 'flypaper for freaks'.

god almighty. this is why i should never be allowed to talk to strangers, under any unsupervised circumstances.

thankfully, i was rescued by a knight in shining armor (two, actually). while i was trying to extricate myself from the intellectual clutches of N'Orleans Boy, i saw someone come in and sit down at the bar behind him. he and a friend were waiting for a table. i glanced over, and there was that brief, awkward moment of eye contact where you both try to determine if you know each other. and when N'Orleans boy headed for the facilities, he came over to talk.

'we know each other from somewhere. we've met several times, in fact.' normally, this wouldn't rate a second glance. see, my social skills are all out of whack. i mean, really. can't shut down N'Orleans boy, and don't know when to pay attention. but i was so damn grateful for an escape hatch that i took the bait.

and we did know each other, but figuring out how was comically difficult. you know when you see someone out of context, and it's a struggle to get from Point A to Point B? say, when you see your bartender in the grocery store, or one of the people who works in your building in the gym (which is doubly confusing, because not only are they out of context, but they're naked, too). and it will take a while for things to click. so all the standard hoo ha - 'did you go...' 'did you ever work...' 'what school...' 'do you know...' this last was particularly amusing to me, as he was briefly convinced that he knew me thru an exgirlfriend. and as he reeled thru the list, turning a charming shade of red, his friend pointed out how especially smooth this was. and then, finally, that last little twist of the Rubik's Cube clicked into place, the big 'ah ha!' moment. we worked together for about a year or so at the theatre, ages and ages ago. damn.

they invited me to join them for dinner, and it was lovely. great, funny conversation, and p has a knack for asking deceptively simple questions that make you sit there and go 'huh'. then we wandered over to Flattop Johnny's (side note: since the beer is the same in both places, shouldn't i just be able to wander over with the beer i already have? i'm just saying.). i got my ass soundly whupped at pool, pathetically disproving that i ever had any skill at the game, and tossed darts for a while. all in all, it was really nice to have the chance to reconnect with a friend, and chat with someone new.

okay, so maybe it's okay to talk to strangers once in a while.

yesterday :: tomorrow

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the appeal of the broken boy

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